SCV basketball teams prepare for playoffs

Valencia sophomore Audrey Field puts up a shot in a Foothill League matchup with Canyon at Valencia High School Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The CIF-Southern Section released the playoff brackets for boys and girls basketball on Sunday at noon, but the Valencia girls basketball team is only focused on one team in that bracket: itself.

“We dealt with ourselves today and the next two days we’re going to focus on our team and do what we do as best as possible,” said Vikings coach Kevin Honaker, whose team plays Bishop Alemany on Thursday. “Come Wednesday we’ll try and implement after watching some film and then kind of focus on them on Wednesday briefly and that’s about it.”

The Valencia girls basketball team and boys basketball team were both named undefeated Foothill League champions on Friday, marking the first time in school history that both teams were able to achieve an undefeated season in the same year.

As a result, the Vikings girls team hosts Alemany on Thursday at 6 p.m. while the boys earned a bye week.

Alemany eliminated Canyon last season in the third round of the CIF-SS Division 1 tournament. Five of the 15 players on the team are seniors, including Mia Manzano, the daughter of Saugus boys basketball coach Alfredo Manzano.

“I think a lot of the girls that play there are girls that grew up and still live in the Santa Clarita Valley and all know each other, but I mean, we played Alemany a lot over the last five to seven years and it’s amazing battles,” Honaker said.

Honaker added that Alemany has changed up its staff and style of play, which increases the challenges of game planning for the Warriors.

“It’s an all-new game, so I think that’s why our approach to this is whatever they did before, we don’t know,” Honaker said. “I think we play the same style, so that might be an advantage to them, but I think we’re going to be really ready for this team.”

The only other Foothill League basketball team that will be at home this week is the West Ranch boys team, which will host Buena on Friday.

Much like the Valencia girls, the Wildcats boys are focused on themselves ahead of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs. Specifically, they’re working on rebounding in transition.

“If we can rebound and run, I think we’ll be okay,” said West Ranch coach Ron Manalastas. “Those are the things that we’ve been working on all year and now that it’s playoffs, these are things we need to clean up and be better at.”

Buena made it to the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 3A tournament last season, but return only three players from that roster.

The Bulldogs are notorious for their press, but the Wildcats have seen multiple teams in Foothill League play press hard. They’re also not a team that’s easy to control, driving to the paint and pounding the inside.

“We’ve seen every kind of press alignment out there and our guys have been able to handle it pretty well,” Manalastas said. “We haven’t been bothered by any types of presses lately, especially during league.”

For the remainder of the SCV boys teams, Saugus will be at Beverly Hills in Division 2AA, Santa Clarita Christian School will host Millikan in Division 3AA and Trinity Classical Academy will be at Santa Clara in Division 5AA.

Beverly Hills is the undefeated champion of the Ocean League this season. Overall, they’ve only lost four games on the season.

For the girls, Canyon will be at Chaminade in Division 1. The last time the two teams met was in the 2016-17 season in the Palisades Tournament. The Eagles walked away with a 51-39 win.

Saugus, which had its longest postseason in program history last season after making it to the first round of the CIF state tournament, will be at Newbury Park in the Division 2A tournament.

Trinity Classical Academy will host the winner of the wild-card game between Orange Country Christian and Pilgrim in the first round of the Division 5A playoffs. The Knights are coming off an undefeated Heritage League season.

All girls games, except for Valencia, will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Boys games will be at 7 p.m. on Friday.

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